A new Asian restaurant, Chopstick, opened in Bethlehem's Sands Casino just after Thanksgiving. At my recent visit, the trays of food I saw carried through the dining room before I even ordered were enough to tell the eatery's tale of fresh and well-made food.
The understated decor exudes subdued Far East elegance. Peach-toned grasscloth-covered walls above a wide wood chair rail feature blue-lit glass panels etched with patterns of bamboo and gingko, setting a Zen-like note of calm.
Under that chair rail, smooth and shiny black river rock set in white grout finishes the wall; it also covers support pillars. Ceiling lights, reminiscent of inverted red Chinese parasols, punctuate the otherwise rather neutral decor.
For lunch, the restaurant serves as a noodle shop featuring more than a half dozen soup varieties ranging from fish ball noodle soup to soy sauce chicken noodle soup. Kitchen specialties include soy sauce noodles with dried squid and roast duck over jasmine rice.
Chopstick's dinner menu offers familiar entrees such as sesame chicken and crispy orange beef along with more unusual selections: lamb chops with teriyaki sauce; salty pepper squid; and jellyfish.
Classic wonton soup ($5.50) was classic in flavor — the clear broth rich with depth and the wontons delicate and light in texture and taste.
Stuffed with what must have been gently flavored ground pork, pan-fried dumplings ($6) were excellent and enhanced by their thin, dark dipping sauce, even though overcooking two of the four dumplings had resulted in a crusty blackish bottom.
A mountain of crabmeat fried rice with XO sauce ($28) filled the plate on which it was served. Its execution approached perfection: rice cooked just right; pieces of carrot and onion still with texture and bite, and the XO sauce added just the right bit of heat. I was disappointed,however, in the amount of crabmeat I found, considering the cost.
My favorite that evening was beef chow fun ($16). This wonderful combination of beef, scallions, bean sprouts, onion and noodles yielded flavor deep and smoky, dark and earthy.
Lucky for me I got to take leftovers home, and it was even better a few days later.
Unfortunately, dessert is not yet available at Chopstick.
Even so, this restaurant runs in the pack of local Asian eateries with fresh, topnotch fare. Who needs dessert anyway? Just don't forget your wallet, though.
Dinner for two totaled $70, including tax and tip but no alcoholic beverages.